- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 20 Feb 2020
An electric lock makes use of an electric current to operate a mechanism to either hold shut or release a securing system.
Electric locks may be split into two basic groups: those where the physical securing is achieved by use of a magnetic holding force, and those where an electric current is used to physically move a bolt or latch, usually via a magnetic solenoid or motor action.
Magnetic locks or ‘maglocks’ are the most common type used in access control systems. They work on the principle that when an electric current is applied to an electromagnet, its magnetising force attracts and holds firmly a magnetic material such as iron or steel, and when the electric current is stopped, the magnetic force ceases.
The usual arrangement for a maglock on a door or gate consists of a large electromagnet which is fixed to the door or gate frame, and an accompanying steel plate, or armature, which is secured to the door or gate itself.
Another form of electric lock is where a solenoid mechanically operates a bolt into its keep, or directly operates the keep itself. The keep is the part of the lock on the door frame that the bolt engages with.
A solenoid is itself a simple electromagnet that converts electrical current into mechanical movement.
Controls such as an access control system can energise and de-energise electric locks. Such controls may often be activated via PIN code readers, proximity sensors or fobs, key code pads or remotely via manual switching in a secured area of the building.
Often, such access control systems need very careful design considerations with regards to how the control is handled during an emergency, when the door or gate might be needed for safety or escape. In some instances, designers may elelct to link such access control systems to the building’s safety systems such as fire alarms.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Access control.
- Commercial security systems.
- Digital door lock market.
- ECA articles.
- Electric motor.
- Electrical energy.
- Electrical power.
- Entry control.
- Home security solutions market.
- Outbuildings security.
- Perimeter security.
- Proximity access control system.
- Security and the built environment.
- Security glazing.
- Types of alarm.
- Types of door.
- Types of lock.
- Visitor door entry system.
Featured articles and news
The admissibility of evidence.
How many can you name? 37 anyone?
CIOB respond to the points-based system.
When is the weather considered 'exceptionally adverse'?
ECA backs call for a rolling programme of rail electrification.
What does 'curtilage' mean and why does it matter?
Our duty to prevent harm and protect each other.
A quality perspective.
If buildings were people, they would be just starting to walk on two legs.
Air filtration and clean air standards.
The Dukes of Normandy and the second world war.